Plural City Ideas Challenge

Submission: May 22, 2016
Registration: May 22, 2016
Language: English
Location: Concept
Prizes: 1st. Prize: $1,000, 2nd. Prize: $500, 3rd. Prize: $250
Type: Open


The Plural City Ideas Challenge is not only about the immediate design solutions to pressing and mounting housing problems in urban centers, but also the design of sustainable, culturally-supportive resource interventions. While there is an immediate need for affordable housing, The Plural City Ideas Challenge is about designing for the city as a series of multi-cultural, multi-plural urban neighborhoods where socio-economic diversity is a fundamental asset to be preserved.

Urban economic displacement impacts low-income and minority groups at a disproportionate rate. For example, in Portland, it is estimated that between 1991 and 2010, 8,356 Black Portland residents were displaced from central city neighborhoods to the east and north, pushed to the margins of the city where public resources are scarce. A recent study conducted by the Urban Displacement Project in Berkeley reveals that in the Bay Area, more than 53% of the low-income households live in neighborhoods jeopardized by urban displacement.

The research indicates that this trend will continue to grow. At the city scale, the consequences of displacement surface in a fragmented urban fabric.

The typical response to this situation focuses on low-income and affordable housing initiatives. While these strategies are undeniably critical, what are the other opportunities to create vital and improved resources to counteract the driving forces behind economic displacement?


The repercussions of economic displacement impact families, neighborhoods, schools, and the very fabric of the city, reinforcing models of exclusion and marginalization while exacerbating inequities. With this challenge of resisting displacement comes the opportunity to propose a new set of ideas to support and foster a plural city at multiple scales. As such, this challenge is intended to collect design proposals spanning from the scale of the city, to neighborhood, to block, building, intersection, or sidewalk. Judges will look for proposals that introduce innovative ideas with the potential to address the wicked problem of displacement and contribute to the plural city.


The competition’s objective is to envision the design of an imaginative, sustainable, viable resource exchange in an area threatened by economic displacement and homogenization. Submission ideas can focus on a range of scales and methods, such as innovate material use, sustainable construction, individual structures, infrastructure, neighborhood design, and tactical urbanism.


  • Embrace and balance cultural, environmental, and economic sustainability.
  • Respect and acknowledge the importance of socio-economic diversity and historic urban fabric.
  • Create universally accessible designs that accommodate the needs of all users and residents.


Submissions must be designed on two 24” x 36” digital boards, portrait format. Accompanying narrative must be 250 to 500 words in length. The names of participants, affiliations, or faculty sponsors, must NOT appear on the boards or narrative. Participants should keep in mind that, due to the large number of entries, preliminary review does not allow for the hanging end-to-end display of presentation boards. Accordingly, participants should not use text or graphics that cross over from board to board.

Both boards and narrative must be sent digitally as a PDF, no larger than 20MB.

Entries will be judged anonymously. List the name of the entrant(s) and school/firm only on the registration form and not on the drawing sheets or narrative.

A final Submission upload must contain the following:

•Completed online registration including all Team Members
•Each of the two 24” x 36” boards uploaded individually as a high resolution Portable Document Format (PDF)
•A Design Essay or Abstract (simple copy/paste text box completed during submission)
•A $45 entry fee ($30 with early registration)

Selected projects will be required to submit high-resolution original files/images for use in challenge summary website and exhibit materials.


Participants choose a project to explore, research, and create innovative solutions that respond to displacement occurring in an urban site of their choosing. The location may be experiencing any point on the cycle of displacement–already occurred, occurring now, or likely to occur in the future.

Submissions must clearly demonstrate the design solution with a mature awareness and innovative approach to environmental issues; an articulate mastery of formal concepts and aesthetic values; a thorough appreciation of human needs and social responsibilities; and a capability to integrate functional aspects of the problem.

No specific site has been selected; submissions should base site-specific solutions on individual research and design solutions.

Go to the competition’s website